The CDC’s recent report on teen mental health is making headlines across the nation. The report is derived from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which polled 17,000 high school students in 2021. The findings revealed that suicide ideation, violence, and depression in teen girls are on the rise.
The Survey Results
While teen depression has been present throughout the years, this year’s survey tells a new story. When the survey results from compiled it revealed a clear gap in the rates of depression, violence, and suicide between girls and boys. There are also notable differences between the sexes regarding substance abuse,
The key findings include:
- About one-third of teenage girls have seriously considered suicide vs. 14% of boys.
- 57% of teen girls reported being persistently sad or hopeless.
- 17% of teen girls said they had been bullied at school vs. 13% of boys.
- 20% of teen girls had been bullied on social media vs. 11% of boys.
- 18% of teen girls had experienced sexual violence in the last year vs. 5% of boys.
- 27% of teen girls had used alcohol vs. 19% of boys.
- 18% of teen girls used marijuana vs. 14% of boys.
- 21% of teen girls used e-cigarettes vs. 15% of boys.
- 15% of teen girls misused prescription opioids vs. 10% of boys.
About Teen Depression
For this discussion, it helps to have some basic information about teen depression. The CDC statistics from 2019 show that about one-fifth of teens experience a major depressive episode, and 36% reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless. You can see the dramatic increase between those data and what the CDC released last week.
The symptoms of depression in teens include:
- Loss of interest in the activities they usually enjoy.
- Feelings of sadness, and hopelessness.
- Changes in sleep patterns, over-sleeping, or insomnia.
- Changes in eating habits, weight gain or loss.
- Fatigue, listlessness.
- Relationship problems.
- Withdrawing socially, isolating behavior.
- Low self-esteem, feeling inadequate, inferior to peers.
- Sensitive to peer rejection or criticism.
- Difficulty concentrating in school.
- Frequent physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches.
- Irritability, aggression.
- Talks about death, wanting to die, suicidal thoughts, or attempts.
A mental health expert can determine how severe the depression is by interviewing the teen and his or her parents. During the interviews, the clinician notes how many of the depression symptoms are present, and how long they have persisted. There are also depression assessment tools that can further fine-tune the diagnosis.
5 Causes of Depression in Teen Girls
This disturbing mental health trend in teen girls makes you wonder why the rates of depression are climbing. Here are some possible causes for the increase in depression in teen girls:
- Social media. Excessive time spent on social media platforms has been tied to several negative effects. Teen girls are sensitive about their looks as it is. When they scroll through the feed of filtered, modified images of perfect faces and bodies, they feel bad about themselves.
- Chronic stress. High school is stressful enough, as teens feel pressured to excel and get accepted into a good college. Add to that any family drama, a loved one’s serious illness or death, or worries about climate change and war. This can be so stressful that it leads to feelings of despair.
- Being bullied. Bullying can take place in person or online on social media. Being bullied can cause deep pain that leaves permanent scars on the psyche. Teens internalize verbal or physical assaults, which can emerge as a mental health disorder like depression.
- Trauma. If a teen girl has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, it can result in depression. This is especially true when they experience a sexual or physical assault. This may result in self-harming behaviors, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.
- Gender identity issues. A recent CDC study points out that teens that identify as LGBTQ are in a state of crisis. About 70% of these teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and 25% of them had attempted suicide.
Teen Suicide Warning Signs
One of the most troubling trends in recent years is the escalating rate of suicide among teens and young adults. In fact, suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of preventable death for this age group.
Teen girls by nature are emotion-driven and can be impulsive. The teen brain is still developing in the areas of emotion regulation, decision-making, and impulse control. Teens do not yet have well-developed coping skills, which can make them more vulnerable to suicidal impulses.
Factors that increase the risk of teen suicide include:
- An existing mental health disorder.
- Family problems like divorce, domestic abuse, or the death of a parent.
- Physically or sexually abuse.
- Break-ups with a romantic partner.
- Bullying or social conflicts; trouble making or keeping friends.
- Substance use disorder.
- Gender questioning.
- A family history of depression and/or suicide.
The new report shows that 32% of teen girls have considered suicide. Therefore, parents need to increase awareness about the warning signs of suicide. By being aware and noting any changes in your teen, you can get them help before it is too late.
Suicide warning signs include:
- Withdrawing from friends and family; isolating behavior.
- Mention suicide to friends or siblings; threaten to kill themselves.
- Serious mood swings.
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors.
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm.
- Grades drop dramatically.
- Increased substance abuse.
- Loss of interest in hygiene or appearance.
- Having items that can be used for suicide in their room.
- No longer participates in activities once enjoyed.
- Stating they feel hopeless or worthless.
- Change in eating habits.
- Change in sleeping habits.
- Signs of extreme agitation or anxiety.
- Giving their possessions away to siblings or friends
- Calling loved ones to say goodbye.
This latest snapshot of teen mental health has yielded many surprising data with regard to teen girls in particular. If your teen is showing signs of depression or suicidal ideation, reach out for help today.
BNI Treatment Centers Mental Health Treatment for Teens
BNI Treatment Centers is a trusted provider of outpatient and residential mental health treatment for adolescents. If your daughter is struggling with depression or suicide ideation, please reach out to us at (888) 522-1504.